Name: Ralph Carol Balcom, Jr.
Rank/Branch: O3/US Air Force
Date of Birth: 24 December 1933
Home City of Record: Seattle WA
Date of Loss: 15 May 1966
Country of Loss: North Vietnam (see text)
Loss Coordinates: 171200N 1064000E (XE100100)
Status (in 1973): Missing In Action
Category: 1
Aircraft/Vehicle/Ground: F105D
Other Personnel In Incident: None Missing
Refno: 0340

Source: Compiled by Homecoming II Project 15 March 1991 from one or more of
the following: raw data from U.S. Government agency sources, correspondence
with POW/MIA families, published sources, interviews. Updated by the P.O.W.


SYNOPSIS: Ralph Balcom Jr. was shot down over North Vietnam about 20 miles
north of the Demilitarized Zone in Quang Binh Province. A radio signal
indicated that Major Balcom had parachuted to the ground, but because of
zero visibility at the time, search planes were not able to locate and
rescue him.

Two months later a propaganda film appeared with a man Ralph's parents
immediately recognized as their son being paraded down the streets of Hanoi.
The U.S. Government later identified the man as a returned POW Kyle Berg,
also from the state of Washington.

In November 1973, the Air Force discovered that Joint Casualty Resolution
Center (JCRC) in Nakhon Phanom was carrying Balcom as a Prisoner of War
while Defense Intelligence Agency carried him as Missing In Action. The Air
Force directed JCRC to delete any reference pertaining to POW status in
Balcom's files. Balcom's status was changed from Prisoner of War to Missing
in Action, although analysts say today that JCRC records were the most
accurate and complete because of their close proximity to the region.

JCRC also lists Balcom as being lost in Laos, not North Vietnam. The loss
coordinates, 171200N 1064000E are in North Vietnam about 20 miles north of
the DMZ. Grid coordinates XE100100 are located a few miles northwest of the
Ban Karai Pass in Laos. It cannot be determined why there is a descrepancy
in loss locations between agencies.

Today, over 20 years have passed since Ralph Balcom's last flight over
Vietnam. His family is still not sure whether he is alive or dead. Over
10,000 reports of Americans still held captive have been received by the
U.S. Balcom could be one of the hundreds experts believe are still alive.
Isn't it time we brought these men home?

Ralph C. Balcom was promoted to the rank of Colonel during the period he was
maintained a Prisoner of War and Missing in Action.



POW & MIA Vietnam Pilot With Valley Ties Is Honored

Posted: Apr 26, 2014 12:52 AM CDT
MADERA RANCHOS, CA - For more than 47 years, a Madera Rancho brother
and sister have waited for their father to come home.

On May 15, 1966, Capt. Ralph Balcom's plane took off and was about
10 miles southwest of Dong Hoi, Vietnam.

Then a few minutes later, radio contact was lost.

The family says records show he was shot down about 20 miles north
over enemy territory.

Although the valley siblings have long since accepted that their father is likely, no longer alive.
They want to bring him home.

During the time Balcom was missing in action, the Captain was promoted to the rank of Colonel.....
Subject:   Maj. Ralph Balcom 5-15-66
Date:   Thu, 22 Jun 2017 20:09:00 -0500
From:   Barbara Molinaro <>

Hello, I was a teenager when I received my POW bracelet. I just found this website and want to leave a message
for his family.  
          The Vietnam War was so terrible as all wars.  My email address is  Please feel free
to contact me.  Thank you for your sacrifice.
Subject:   Vietnam POW bracelet Maj. R Balcom
Date:   Tue, 9 Oct 2018 09:20:01 -0700
From:   cat ivazes <>


I found this amazing memory from my childhood. I wish I had contacted you then but I was too little. At the
same time I did write to president Nixon asking why we were at war and got a generic postcard response. 
I probably still have that postcard somewhere. As I hope and work toward letting go of cancer I am also
letting go of stuff I have held onto. This is how I found my broken bracelet   I will always remember. I am
so grateful this website let me see his photo.  Blessed be! {my sister and mom both had bracelets too. We
got to return momís guys unbroken one but that was the only one still intact]


Date: Tue, 7 Sep 2021 17:45:31 -0400
From: Debbie Shea <>

I have a POW/MIA bracelet with the inscription of Maj. Ralph Balcom 5-15-66 on it. I acquired it in about
1975 while I was in high school. I recently found it & want to return it to the Balcom family.

Please contact me if you would like to have it. Thank you.

Debbie Shea



Return to Service Member Profiles


Captain Ralph Carol Balcom, who joined the U.S. Air Force from Washington, was a member of the 421st Tactical Fighter Squadron. On May 15, 1966, he piloted an F-105D Thunderchief (tail number 61-0174) as the lead aircraft in a three-plane bombing mission over North Vietnam. The flight was unable to strike the primary target due to cloud cover and moved down the coast to bomb a section of Route 1A. After dropping his ordnance, Capt Balcom radioed that he would return to base, and he was last seen climbing through a cloud formation in Quang Binh Province. The other two aircraft on the mission lost visual contact with Capt Balcom after they entered the cloud and they were unable to locate him after exiting. Immediate search and rescue efforts failed to locate Capt Balcom. Information from later investigations indicated that Capt Balcomís aircraft was likely hit by enemy fire and crashed; however, he has not been recovered and remains unaccounted-for. While carried in the status of missing in action (MIA), the U.S. Air Force promoted Capt Balcom to the rank of Colonel (Col). Today, Colonel Balcom is memorialized on the Courts of the Missing at the National Memorial Cemetery of the Pacific.

Based on all information available, DPAA assessed the individual's case to be in the analytical category of Active Pursuit.

If you are a family member of this serviceman, DPAA can provide you with additional information and analysis of your case. Please contact your casualty office representative.

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